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Chelmsford construction company fined $210,000 in worker’s death

Chelmsford construction company fined $210,000 in worker’s death

TORONTO — R.M. Belanger Limited of Chelmsford, Ont., has been fined $210,000 after a worker was killed when a wooden telephone pole rolled while it was being loaded with a forklift onto a trailer.

The incident occurred in the parking lot of a golf course near Sudbury, Ont. on Sept. 17, 2018.

The company, which provides institutional, commercial and industrial construction services, was convicted Oct. 1, 2020 followed by sentencing on Feb. 26, 2021 in Sudbury.

In September of 2018 the company used the parking lot of a golf course in Sudbury to store a number of wooden telephone poles. On the day of the incident, a worker with the company was dispatched with a truck and flatbed trailer to pick up a pole for use on a construction site.

The worker, who was also a supervisor, offered to load the required pole for the driver using a machine equipped with a fork attachment. The worker picked up a pole and approached the flatbed trailer, however the forks were not spread apart as far as possible which created instability with the pole as the loader moved and the pole was not secured in any way to the forks.

According to a court bulletin, the truck driver was on the flatbed trailer, had placed a long piece of lumber on the trailer to act as a stopper for the pole and was standing on the other side of the lumber.

The operator of the loader tilted the forks forward, dropping the pole onto the flatbed but the pole had a warp in it and rolled over the piece of lumber. The driver tried to jump over the rolling pole but was hit by it and knocked off the trailer. The pole rolled off the trailer and inflicted fatal injuries.

The company was found guilty of two offences: failing to use a safe procedure for loading a pole onto a flatbed trailer and failing to ensure that no worker was in an endangered position during the loading of a pole onto a flatbed trailer. These were both contrary to section 25(2)(h) of the Ontario Health and Safety Act. 

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